Female CEOs still trusted more than males

Almost half of the 5,000 employees polled for the Index of Leadership Trust thought that their CEOs had handled the impact of recession well.

And, as in last year’s survey, female CEOs are still trusted more than their male counterparts.

The second annual survey ( a 50:50 mix of managers and non-managers) carried out by the Management Today magazine and the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) had better news than last year with leaders being rated more highly for creating more open and understanding cultures. They seemed to be making an attempt to be more visible.

And there was an 8% increase in that trust for female CEOs amongst male employees and an even higher 11% for those men who weren’t managers. (See my earlier post on last year’s survey at: “Do you trust your boss?“). It seems women are rated higher, not just on doing their job well, but in being principled and honest, and particularly in understanding the problems facing employees.

Penny de Valk, CEO of the ILM, is keen to play down the gender stereotype. She says it’s not because women are more empathetic than men but because; “we know that women are not likely to put themselves forward for new roles unless they feel 95% capable, whereas men will happily do so at 65%, so what happens is that when women are promoted, they are very familiar with the tasks their people are doing”.

Well women do suffer more from imposter syndrome than men so there is probably something in that but women are probably are more empathic than men and many have to work hard at achieving a reasonable work-life balance to avoid being stressed out and suffering ill-health as a result.

So is this a backlash against alpha male leaders? These findings also conflict with another recent survey I posted a blog about which showed that all employees prefer male bosses: “Most people prefer male bosses“.

There are only 5 female CEOs in FTSE 100 companies: Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco, Dame Marjorie Scardino at Pearson, Angela Ahrendts at Burberry, Cynthia Carroll at Anglo American, and Katherine Garrett-Cox at Alliance Trust.

Regardless of gender the largest negative factor in determining trust in CEOs is whether or not there has been cost-cutting. The greater the severity of cut-backs the lower the trust in line managers and particularly in CEOs.The  CEO trust score in organisations that haven’t suffered is 68 but in organisations that have suffered cuts it drops to 51 – so massive consequences as de Valk concedes.

And it’s even grimmer news for the public sector. They already have the lowest trust in their CEOs of any sector – and I wonder if that is linked in any way to the massive salaries and pension pots they have accrued over the last decade?. With the swingeing cutbacks planned by the government it can only get worse.


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